H. Bruce Franklin discusses Crash Course: From the Good War to the Forever War
Thursday, November 1, 7:30pm
Pegasus Books Solano
Renowned historian H. Bruce Franklin discusses Crash Course: From the Good War to the Forever War
Growing up during the Second World War, H. Bruce Franklin believed what he was told: that America’s victory would lead to a new era of world peace. Like most Americans, he was soon led to believe in a world-wide Communist conspiracy that menaced the United States, forcing the nation into a disastrous war in Korea. But once he joined the U.S. Air Force and began flying top-secret missions as a navigator and intelligence officer, what he learned was eye-opening. He saw that even as the U.S. preached about peace and freedom, it was engaging in an endless cycle of warfare, bringing devastation and oppression to fledgling democracies across the globe.
Now, after fifty years as a renowned cultural historian, Franklin offers a set of hard-learned lessons about modern American history. Crash Course is essential reading for anyone who wonders how America ended up where it is today: with a deeply divided and disillusioned populace, led by a dysfunctional government, and mired in unwinnable wars. It also finds startling parallels between America’s foreign military exploits and the equally brutal tactics used on the home front to crush organized labor, antiwar, and civil rights movements.
More than just a memoir or a history book, Crash Course gives readers a unique firsthand look at the building of the American empire and the damage it has wrought. Shocking and gripping as any thriller, it exposes a decades-long deception of the American public and commemorates the millions who have been been continually fighting for peace and justice.
One of America’s leading cultural historians, H. Bruce Franklin is the author or editor of nineteen books and more than 300 articles on culture and history published in more than a hundred major magazines and newspapers, academic journals, and reference works. He has given over five hundred addresses on college campuses, on radio and TV shows, and at academic conferences, museums, and libraries, and he has participated in making four films. He has taught at Stanford University, Johns Hopkins, Wesleyan, and Yale and currently is the John Cotton Dana Professor of English and American Studies at Rutgers University in Newark. Before becoming an academic, Franklin worked in factories, was a tugboat mate and deckhand, and flew for three years in the United States Air Force as a Strategic Air Command navigator and intelligence officer.
“It’s especially stunning for me personally to read Franklin’s gripping account of the era we both lived through–three years apart in age–and to realize that we followed the same unusual trajectory in beliefs and attitudes: both committed Cold Warriors at the outset–my service in the Marine Corps and working on nuclear war plans in the Pentagon overlapping his active service in the Strategic Air Command rehearsing the catastrophic enactment of such plans–his disillusion with the Vietnam war and his turn to active resistance shortly preceding my own. Readers of any age will find this an exciting and startlingly self-aware memoir of a life transformed in our dangerous epoch, and most will find in it radically new perspectives on these perilous times, up to the present mind-boggling moment. A terrific book!” –Daniel Ellsberg
“Two threads are skillfully interwoven in this absorbing memoir: the record of a remarkable life, with rich and varied experience; and astute analysis of the background of critical historical events. The outcome is a fascinating picture of post-World War II America, all under the grim shadow of ‘forever war.’”–Noam Chomsky
“Only the late great Howard Zinn comes close to H. Bruce Franklin as truth-telling historian whose ‘the personal is political’ oeuvre should be read by every American, left or right, who aspires to be informed beyond headlines and rumor. Franklin’s Crash Course: From the Good War to the Forever War, meticulously researched, factually inarguable, is also a fascinating memoir in which the past is always prologue to the nearly out-of-body experience in which we find ourselves today. From 1939 through WWII to Korea to Vietnam to Iraq to Afghanistan to Syria to whatever is next: isn’t it time we figure out how we got here? May H. Bruce Franklin’s incendiary Crash Course crash into discussion on every street corner, in every board room, classroom, and bedroom in these our United States, and in the world beyond.”–Jayne Ann Phillips, National Book Award Finalist, author, Machine Dreams and Lark & Termite
“A scorching overview of the militarization of America that is simultaneously the engrossing autobiography of an historian who came of age in World War Two and the early Cold War years. Crash Course is a vivid and sobering eyeopener for readers at every level from students to fellow seniors to everyone in between.”–John Dower, National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize winning historian